Tag Archives: Bing

Bing Bar Gets An Update; Adds Facebook Chat, Better Entertainment and News

After the neat refresh of Bing Bar 7.0 with useful app buttons, the Bing team has released Bing Bar 7.1 with a slew of new features that provides richer access to your social network, more entertainment options, and updates to the popular Bing Bar apps.

Bing Bar

Apart from several improvement under the hood regarding notifications, configurability, and performance, following are the benefits that the latest update offers you:

  • Facebook Chat: Bing Bar now allows you to chat with your Facebook friends without having Facebook opened in your browser.
  • Slacker Radio: The latest update brings Slacker Radio to the bar. It allows you to listen to music, sports, news, comedy and more without interrupting your web browsing.
  • Updated News App: The existing Bing Bar news app has been updated to be more visual now and includes more sources. While you can focus on the topics that interest you, the app notifies you in case of a breaking news within the Bing Bar.
  • Search Suggestions: The Bing Bar provides suggested search terms as you browse. The Bing team has been working on expanding the sites and the methods to suggest searches making it more effective and easier for you.

Download and install manually, or if you’re already a user of Bing Bar 7.0, you’ll get the upgrade automatically delivered to you over the next few months. While the Bing Bar is available in different languages and for different geographies, some of the features of the latest version are not yet available in all markets. The Bing Bar is available for Internet Explorer 7 or later on Windows XP with Service Pack 3, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

Bing And Skype Come Together

If you happen to both participate in Bing’s Rewards program and use Skype, then you’re in luck. Microsoft announced on Wednesday that Skype Credit will be added to the Bing Rewards redemption center; so for only 100 credits, you will be able to receive Skype credit worth 60 minutes of calling on Skype.

Sure, Skype-to-Skype is free, but having the ability to call landlines and mobiles, and send SMS messages through Skype is quite nice. You will also be able to set up a Skype to Go number and access Skype Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide. If you aren’t already signed up for the Bing Rewards program — which can be used for plenty of other rewards beyond Skype credit as well — then you should sign up here.

Recently, Bing and Skype came together in another way: The Bing Bar is offered to users during Skype installation. This is a far worse promotion to come out of the collaboration of both teams in contrast to the awesome Bing Rewards for Skype credit promo.I mean, seriously, a web toolbar… that’s offered during the installation of software.

Nevertheless, Liz Tassey Gerber, the Director of Bing and MSN Engagement Marketing concluded her blog post telling us to keep our eyes peeled for more exciting new stuff to come out of the Bing + Skype relationship.

Bing Exec Fired For Misappropriation Of Assets Would Return To Company If Afforded The Opportunity

Last week, two Bing marketing executives were fired from the company following an internal investigation which revealed that they misappropriated company assets. Earlier this week, Eric Hadley, one of the executives fired, issued a comment stating that, if offered, he would have no quarrels to return to the company. He also described working for Microsoft as “the best experience of my life.” However, he offered no comment on the exact events that led to his termination at Microsoft.

So, what exactly went down? AdAge reports that the violations pertained to a three-story Bing Bar in Park City, Utah, established during the Sundance Film Festival. The Bing marketing team apparently paid over $1 million to Co Collective, which is apparently not a Microsoft-approved vendor. Sean Carver, the other executive fired also took a first-class flight from New York to Seattle despite not having the authorization to do so. And finally, there were issues with line items and dates on purchase orders (with the Bing Bar that was set up.)

Nothing too earth-shattering, but it’s likely that Microsoft won’t be bringing these guys back to the company any time soon. Hadley stated that the Bing marketing team will “bounce back”, also expressing his support and confidence in the new marketing chief Mike Nichols.

In a way, it seems like his termination is a loss for the company. He, along with Carver did, after all, work with many celebrities such as Jay-Z and Lebron James to get the word about the brand out there.

Microsoft Fires Two Bing Guys Who Misappropriated Company Assets

According to a statement issued to GeekWire, Microsoft has terminated the employment of Bing marketing executives Eric Hadley and Sean Carver following an internal investigation. Hadley was the general manager of consumer marketing at Bing, while Carver was the director of consumer marketing in Microsoft’s Online Services Division. Here’s what a Microsoft Spokesperson had to say on the matter:

“We can confirm that as the result of an investigation, Eric Hadley and Sean Carver’s employment with Microsoft has been terminated for violation of company policies related to mismanagement of company assets and vendor procurement.”

While we don’t know exactly what they did — the description of their offenses are quite vague, it could have either been a minor or major misappropriation with any possible Microsoft partner(s) — it certainly sounds like a serious offense in either event. AdAge notes that Hadley worked to orchestrate the sponsorship of Jay-Z’s book launch party, along with Lebron James’ “The Decision.”

Business Insider reports that Bing General Manager Mike Nichols will fill the role of the two men in the interim. Microsoft is yet to share additional details on this, nor have they announced whether or not they plan to press criminal charges on the duo.

Bing Revamps Pushpin, Popup, And Transit Designs

The Bing team has been hard at work lately rolling out improvements to its service, such as their recent collaboration with the Nokia Maps team to produce a unified map design, their recent lovemaking with Twitter, or the release of the Bing Maps SDK for Metro-style apps. And earlier this morning, Bing announced a set of design and usability improvements made to two of the most common map elements — pushpins and popups — along with an improved transit experience.

As you can see in the photo above, pushpins have been redesigned. The orange pushpins of the past have been replaced with a cleaner, blue design. What’s the reason behind the change? Bing Senior Program Manager Dan Polivy elaborated: “our goals were simple: enable you to find the information you want, more quickly and efficiently, while at the same time minimizing obstruction of the map”. Pushpins that are generated as a result of a search query will be blue, while pins representing user-generated content will be orange (with the new design, of course.)

A small popup was also added when you hover over a pin, which provides an “at-a-glance” name of the place. This allows you to easily skim through pins throughout the map. And by clicking, this popup can be expanded into a “full” popup, that shows all of the data and interactions you can perform with that place.

Speaking of popups, as you can see above, they too have received quite a substantial redesign. They now have a cleaner, Metro-inspired look that displays the content in a much cleaner fashion than the former design.

A nice touch that was implemented is that the pushpin and popup designs will adjust, should the map call for it so that data isn’t hard to read against the map background.

Moving on to the transit improvements, the colors and signage of the transit lines have been largely refined to better represent their respective real-life counterparts for both US and UK public transport systems. You can also now send transit directions to your mobile phone through SMS. A link to m.bing.com will be sent to you, which will load the transit directions on all platforms that would allow you to navigate to that website (shockingly, Windows Phone is exempt here; it currently does not support transit.)

You will also now be able to easily modify directions routes by clicking and dragging on start, end, or on waypoints.

Pretty exciting changes.

[Update: Facebook Too] Bing Testing In-line Twitter Trends, Influencing Results?

In September last year Bing and Twitter renewed their relationship with some weird twitter exchanges. Not much was known at that time and we’ve been hoping that Bing will help searching for tweets. As it turns out, Bing has some different plans. Microsoft has tried real-time social updates from Twitter being shown on Bing in the past. I use Bing as my default search engine and when I searched for Pepsi Next, I noticed a small note below the first search result:

Bing not only tells me that a particular story is trending on twitter but also how many shares in the past few hours. This is deep meta data information for a search engine in real-time. My guess is, the number of shares on twitter are also influencing the placement of a link in search result. The Ad Age article most likely has more shares than the rest of the articles.

It makes a lot of sense for a search engine to weigh links based on Twitter interaction since Facebook isn’t exactly known for rapid, real-time link sharing. Facebook’s integration in Bing is more to do with social relevance, while Twitter is more to do with current relevance—a smart approach.

Update: Romit Mehta tells me that this has been around since October 2011. Funny I never noticed it, perhaps I don’t search for topics that trend on Twitter.

Update #2: It looks like the Bing team is now bringing in Facebook share numbers in the mix too. Screenshot:

Bing Maps SDK For Metro Style Apps Released

So, now that the shiny new Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for some time now, surely you’re eager to develop for it. If any of your preliminary, tinker-with-WinRT apps involves mapping, here’s something to take a look at: On Tuesday, Microsoft released the Bing Maps SDK for Metro-style apps, which packs a set of controls that will let you integrate mapping into your Windows 8 apps quite easily.

For those of you who wish to code your WinRT Metro app using Javascript, you may have run into some issues pertaining to “sandboxing of the web context” when embedding the current AJAX Bing control (during my recent Metro app hackathon with Rafael Rivera and David Golden, I ran into this issue with my app that pulls data down from Reddit.) Not to worry however, the new SDK offers a Javascript control that you can use in your JavaScript WinRT apps without issue. The control is heavily based on the existing AJAX v7 control, but it’s tailored for the “app context” instead of the “web context”. It would be interesting to see what the differences between these controls are.

Unfortunately, some other modules such as directions, traffic, and overlays are currently unavailable, but data can still be rendered through their REST APIs. Head on over here to learn more about developing with the new JavaScript control.

If JavaScript doesn’t tickle your fancy, a control written in C++ was also released for those of you who would prefer to use C#, C++, and Visual Basic along with some XAML. This control offers client vector rendering and full hardware acceleration. And head on over here to learn more about developing with this control.

Bing Metro Apps Hit The Windows Store

The Bing Team have announced that they have released three apps to the Windows Store  — which has opened its doors to submissions from developers on top of yesterday’s release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview — are three apps that are powered by Bing: Finance, Weather, and Maps. All three of these apps are, of course, Metro apps, and thus display information in a very clean and minimal fashion.

Weather, for example, displays the current temperature, weather conditions, and a forecast of the coming days in the form of clean text that’s laid out against a beautiful background that’s relevant to the current weather.

The Finance app allows you to quickly glance at market prices. You can add individual stocks and market indices as live tiles, in which their current price is displayed. You can also quickly glance at a chart, and read relevant news to stay informed.

And finally, the Maps app uses, well, Bing Maps to display a map that you can interact, search, and retrieve driving directions with.

“We think these apps help showcase the endless new possibilities with Windows 8 and Bing”, writes Brian MacDonald, Corporate VP of the Bing Application Experiences Team. That they do.

Bing Maps And Nokia Make Sweet Love, Give Birth To Unified Map Design

In what appears to be one of many collaborations that we can expect to come from Microsoft and Nokia, the Bing Maps and Nokia Maps teams have recently collaborated to develop — and launch across both products — a new and improved map design. Packing improvements to the road map style, typography, and the use of visual hierarchy, the update aims to, quoting the Bing announcement, “unify our map elements, improve contrast and usability to ultimately create a more beautiful and functional map.”

The color palette for the road map style has been improved, and, as a result, you will no longer mistake roads for rivers. In all seriousness, the improved colors are quite nice on the eyes, and they do not clash with overlaid data. Improvements to typography were also made; small type is now easier to read, city names are large and transparent, and their size scales with your zoom level, and type size hierarchy helps to bring order to the maps. They’ve also made improvements to the visual hierarchy — basically, what data is shown — at different zoom levels.

On top of these map improvements, they vastly improved their mapping coverage and data through their partnership with Nokia and NavTeq. As a result, map data has improved drastically in several countries, including Egypt, Israel, Malta, Philippines, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

[Screenshots] Bing Wants You To Link Your Web Pages & Facebook Account

Earlier today Bing announced a new feature that offers deeper Facebook integration. The feature known as Linked Pages lets you tag webpages just like you tag photos. The feature seems similar to Google’s Author search where authors can get their information shown next to articles written by them. Bing is letting everyone do it. When I searched for my name Bing showed me a little notification about Linked Page:

On the page, Bing shows several of my Internet profiles and search results. I can then link pages with my Facebook profile, and even link the pages to my Facebook friends. (The direct link to the feature is Bing.com/LinkedPages.)

 

Once you’ve linked the pages, Bing results will list the linked pages on top. Screenshot:

Bing also sends an update on Facebook telling my friends that I’ve linked my Facebook profile and my search results:

I decided to run a search for my Facebook friends. The first search was for fellow ZDNet Microsoft columnist–Mary Jo Foley. She did not have pages linked to her but since she is my contact on Facebook I could link the pages directly to her (Link to Mary-Jo Foley). Screenshot:

The second search was for GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop. I haven’t added Todd as my friend but I am subscribed to his updates, as a result Bing doesn’t show me a “Link to Todd Bishop” option. Screenshot:

The ability to tag your Facebook friends and Bing listing all “linked” profiles under the top result, which in most cases is a Facebook profile, is nicely done.

 

Microsoft Announces New Bing Vision and Image Mapping Features For Windows Phone Users

If you’re a proud owner of a Windows Phone, you will be able to take advantage of two new Bing features announced today.

The first improvement, called Bing Vision, builds on the existing ability to retrieve information from Microsoft Tags and QR Codes by allowing you to also scan barcodes, as well as CD, DVD, and book covers. This feature is available starting today.

The second improvement — Bing Image Matching for Newspapers — should need no introduction. In typical Microsoft fashion, a lengthy highly descriptive name was utilized. This service will allow users to take a photo of an article in a print publication, so they may be acquainted with the digital version of the same article. Microsoft states that this feature will work with over 3,000 publications worldwide. This is a practical feature for those of you who still read stuff on paper and occasionally wish to bookmark something you see in print for future reference. Bing Image Matching will be available sometime around March.

As fellow blogger Alex Wilhelm notes, it’s worth remembering that these features are Windows Phone exclusive. That being said, they will be received by a relatively smaller audience than if this were pushed out to say, the Bing app. There’s probably an even tinier minority of people who still read articles on print. It is, nevertheless cool though. And for you print-loving folks out there considering a Windows Phone device, this should seal the deal.

Bing Overtakes Yahoo, Google Still Wins

comScore has released U.S search engine rankings for December 2011, and Google, unsurprisingly, still leads the pack by a huge margin.

Microsoft’s Bing, even after burning billions of dollars in marketing and R&D, still hasn’t made a dent on Google’s market share. Yahoo, on the other hand, is slowly bleeding to death.

Comscore Search Engine Market Share

Bing had 15% market share in the U.S. in November which increased to 15.1% in December. Google had 65.4% U.S. market share in November which is now up to 65.9%.

Yahoo which had 15.1% market share lost 0.6% – 0.5% to Google and 0.1% to Bing. So effectively, Bing is gaining tiny amounts of search market share from Yahoo, which is powered by Bing’s technology, while Google continues to add to its already considerable numbers.

AOL and Ask are like zombies with 2-3% market share each, with no growth. With Yahoo having given up months ago, Bing is the only real competitor to Google right now. Newer alternatives like DuckDuckGo are still rounding errors in terms of market share. By the looks of it, Bing isn’t going to topple Google any time soon. Hopefully, Bing will at least turn a profit in a couple of years, instead of dragging down Microsoft’s overall margins.

Bing Offering Editors’ Picks

Bing announced, on its Community Blog today, a new enhancement to their search results called “Editors’ Picks”. The service is “designed to enhance Bing results by bringing editorially selected sites to your search”. The goal is to make your search experience faster so that you can be more productive. According to their blog post, “Editors’ Picks are small collections of relevant sites that our online editorial experts think will be useful to you, but may not always make it to the top of the search results page.”

Editors' Picks

They don’t reveal too much about how they go about picking content to show in the Editors’ Picks search results. One example they use in their blog post is when they see interest in seasonal topics, like Thanksgiving recipes and crafts, so they put together a collection of sites based on that topic. This says to me that they must be sifting through popular search queries and compiling information based on those trends.

Getting Editors’ Picks is pretty simple. You basically start a Bing search and if there are any relevant Editors’ Picks for that subject, a tab will appear at the top of your search results labeled “Editors’ Picks”. They have also cheated a little off of  Google’s Guesses and have added “Instant Answers” below some search results.  You can visit  Bing.com/editorspicks  to find the full list of topics for which they have prepared Editors’ Picks at this time.

This is an interesting move on Bing’s part. I think that it is good to be able to find content based on what a human has picked out. However, isn’t this kind of what Yahoo started out as when it was trying to index the web? I am sure there are some differences but that was the first thing that came to my mind when I read their blog post. I am also curious about how they will be able to overcome a lot of the biases that are out there. For instance, I personally take issue with their stating that they are offering a look at sites that aren’t always at the top search lists, when I look at their “Must Read Tech Blogs” section and it lists the same old blogs that always get attention. Hey Bing, why not show Techie Buzz some love?!? ;) OK, I will get off my soap box now. The thing I am most interested in is if the hand-picked results can show me a side of the web that I otherwise would not have been able to find using  algorithm based searches.  I honestly hope that it can.

 

Mozilla Firefox Gets Bing’ed – Microsoft Introduces Firefox with Bing

There had been some speculation earlier that Firefox was going to dump Google search  as its default search engine and replace it with Microsoft’s Bing, since Google came out with its own browser, Chrome. However, the Mozilla team immediately clarified stating that the default search will remain Google powered, but will add Bing to the pre-existing list of search services likes Wikipedia, Amazon, Yahoo and others.

Yet, Microsoft  wasn’t  pleased about it, and were looking forward for an alternative. In a blog post, Microsoft announced that it has teamed up with the Mozilla team to release a new version of Firefox with Bing, which includes Bing as the default search engine. Well, don’t get too excited about that. This will be released as a separate version along with the default version which is powered by Google search.

Firefox With Bing

It’s just that there are two same versions of Firefox with a different search provider. In other words, Firefox with Bing is exactly the same as normal Firefox. The new version will receive security and version updates at the same time as the normal Firefox.

According to the Bing team, the Bing powered version of Firefox has something called “AwesomeBar” – where you can type in URLs (Web addresses) as well as search queries. Perhaps Microsoft wasn’t aware of it that this feature has been already available in the previous versions of Firefox and is also available in every other browser. Needless to say, Microsoft has always been into this – replicating ideas and giving it another name.

Something to note – In November 2011, Mozilla’s contract with Google will expire. However, we aren’t sure if the contract will be renewed or Mozilla is just going to dump Google. Or it could be the other way round also.

For Mozilla, the partnership with Microsoft is certainly a good deal. Firefox is still the most popular browser, however stats indicate that it is slightly declining month-by-month, but on the other hand, Google’s Chrome is gaining popularity progressively. This, however, makes me think that Google might not be interested in renewing their contract with Firefox.

Also Read:  Why Is Chrome Winning And Firefox Losing Market Share?

2011 Browser Statistics

Did you know? Google Chrome has been the most used browser on Techie Buzz

Sebastian Anthony from Extreme Tech explained how browsers make money, and Firefox being the most popular browser, generated 97 percent ($104 million) of its revenue from royalties paid from the Firefox search box, out of which 86 percent ($85 million) came from Google alone. Now, if Google does not renew its contract with Firefox, then it could be a direct challenge for Microsoft’s Bing as well as for Firefox in the browser wars.

You can download Firefox with Bing from  FirefoxWithBing.com.

[Statistics via]

Bing for Mobile Browse ‘Likes’ Facebook

Bing has introduced a new set of features that enhances Bing for Mobile Browse  experience for the mobile browsers at m.bing.com with the help of Facebook integration and some new additions. Earlier this year, Bing rolled out Liked Results’ to the desktop site which allowed you to instantly see which stories, content, and sites your Facebook friends have liked’. bing-for-mobile

 

A thumbs up from your friends definitely makes a particular news story, article, or blog post more relevant to you. The latest update has brought the same feature to the mobile browser. Bing shows faces of up to three of your friends that like a search result, offering a visual and virtual seal of approval from your trusted social network. To enable this feature, you need to authenticate and connect your Facebook account to Bing on the Settings page.

The latest update also brings together millions of videos from across the web: from Hulu, MSN, YouTube, and a slew of other sources. For sports fans, there are special tabs for MLB, NBA, and NHL. To make movie watching decisions easier, the update allows you to quickly review user and critic ratings while you browse the list of currently playing movies, watch trailers, and find show times. You can even ask your Facebook friends what they thought of a movie, or if they want to join you, all from within Bing.